My Dad and His Work. Happy Fathers Day!

When I was growing up my dad, Dick Prochnow, continued his career with Culligan Soft Water that began in 1959 in Northbrook, Illinois.  Here’s the link to my original post on How did I get into Rehab Counseling?

Dad started as a material handler in the plant, doing prepackaging as well as painting work, and supervising a half-dozen workers.  He received a promotion and in 1968, started his work as the branch manager of Culligan in Iowa Falls.

1953 Ad for Culligan Soft Water

My dad was in charge of daily operations at Culligan when it was located on Main and Railroad overlooking the Iowa River.  I remember watching dad work in the office one minute and the next he was out working in the plant. He moved around and handled many responsibilities.

Dad was involved in planning, directing and coordinating the operations of this small business. He formulated policies, planned the use of materials and human resources and made purchasing decisions.  He hired, trained, and yes, fired people.  He made marketing, sales and delivery calls.  He did any work that the workers he hired did, and more. He responded to customer complaints, including those coming in the middle of the night or on weekends that required repairing softening units.

Hey Culligan Man!

Dad hired 7 guys who delivered the softeners and the salt to residential and commercial customers.  He had a full-time secretary and a part-time office worker.  For a time, my brothers (Mike and Steve) worked for him.  I cleaned the bathroom, and sucked on the sugar cubes set out for coffee (not at the same time UGGG.) I also remember the pop machine!

Sucking on the Sugar Cubes – A Fond Memory

I remember the interesting smells, sights and sounds of water being regenerated. I remember the brine pit – scary.  Being waay down under the ground, it was dark.  The only way in or out was the built in ladder. It smelled strange.  I also remember walking in the plant area, on the grates over the water, around the long lines of water tanks.  The huge trucks were parked inside the plant.  And the big workers, how they could move numerous tanks and 50# bags of salt onto their trucks, and off they went to deliver.

Dad is very skilled!

 And talented!

Dad has many skills and can use a variety of hand tools and power equipment. He’s pretty good with money and figures too.  And he has a way with human relations.  He can smooze the higher ups and bring in the customers.  “I liked the people the best.”  He can go from wearing his blue uniform to a suit and look just as handsome.

Dad worked for Culligan in Iowa Falls until the day they canned him.  As he put it “they left me”.  This was 25 years into his career in Iowa Falls.  I don’t know the details, something with a change in ownership of the company and corporate relations that led to the firing. Jerks.

More to come…because change (along with hard work) is good. My hat is off to my wonderful and talented and handsome dad!

Happy Father’s Day!


My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

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Creatively Looking at Creativity! And Gaining Valuable Skills to Boot!

Let’s take a creative look at creativity. Have you ever created anything new that added value and a way to gain valuable skills?  Sure you have!

Drawing pictures, writing for a magazine (I’m a freelance writer for Women’s Edition), garden or silk flower arranging, painting an old milk can, sewing a bunch of buttons on your jeans, knitting a really long chain out of yard, crocheting a baby blanket, baking secret cupcakes, sculpting your hair, story-telling in the dark, cracking jokes before breakfast, rebuilding an old tractor engine, building a swing out of an old tire, designing a user friendly website, starting a small business in your basement, singing a self-written song, designing a voice activated door opener (I so want to do this!), creating a mural with sidewalk chalk in your driveway, mowing strange shapes into your lawn, and on and on and on……is, simply put, a fun way to learn and gain valuable skills.

 There is so much going on in your mind when you’re creating!

I always ask my clients about their hobbies and interests.  The wonderful attributes of a person’s inner workings help me to identify their transferable skills beyond the basic ones found from their work background.

My son Jake, who graduates on Sunday from high school, has always loved to draw. Yes, he’s gotten into a bit of trouble at school for choosing to draw rather than do his school work.  Oh well. His mind (and hands) simply love to draw. And he’s very talented. Here’s a sample:



From a vocational perspective, I’m fascinated by the work of a CAD Designer. CAD ~ Computer Aided Design has revolutionized how people draw and design things.  Speed, efficiency, communication, and revisions are performed very quickly. People are using CAD to draw virtually anything in 3D, and there are many software products available, and more to come I’m sure.

CAD is used to create machines, products, components, floor plans, animation, special effects, advertising, technical manuals, and on and on once again. And even mammography (but it still squeezes the heck out of you.) I think it’s cool that trucking companies are using CAD to load their trailers efficiently. I’d like to use it to organize my freezer.

I’ve told Jake I believe he would excel at work that uses Computer Aided Design. And I recommend he check out colleges that offer CAD (read DMACC!).  However, I think CAD projects still need to be in tune with the human emotional content seen in hand drawings.  Here’s another sample of Jake’s drawings:

Link from Legend of Zelda

Jacob will come home from school and show me his latest creations. He doesn’t leave home without a sketch pad! I wonder if he realizes how much he’s really using geometry, spatial relations, visual acuity, fine motor skills, eye-hand connection, attention to detail, and many a good pencil eraser (which crumbles all over the place!) to practice and refine his drawing methodology.  And he exhibits patience and stamina throughout the process!

Jacob can draw anything he’s observed. And he can draw from memory.  For Mother’s Day, he and Arin designed a card for me.  Jacob was in charge of the artwork, Arin the writing.  I loved it!  Using his skill set, Jacob drew each of our pets from memory.  He added each of their unique personalities with a twist of the pencil.  Jake sees contour, edges, sizes, angles, lines, proportions, shading, shades, gestures, color, patterns, textures……and is able to recreate images to a T. Or better yet, he creates his own images into whatever letter he chooses!


Ram Head (a re-creation from a framed print I’ve had since the 60s)

Jacob has a many transferable skills (as do most of my placement clients!)  Transferable skills are accomplishments and understandings an individual has developed in various situations that can be used in many other situations.  Very simply explained, transferable skills are those versatile skills that you can apply and make use of in many situations and roles.

In a future blog, I’ll write about transferable skills.  In the meantime, tell me how you were creative today.  What’d you do?  What are your interests and hobbies?


My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce. 





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